Archive for December, 2008

Global Beat 12/31/08

December 31, 2008

It was my pleasure to host the year-end Global Beat show today on KFAI, filling in for Doug Cain. We heard a number of old favorites plus a great new Afrobeat track from Lightning Head and a song from the funky new album from Stephanie McKay. You can stream the show for two weeks here; playlist follows.


Freddie Hubbard

December 30, 2008

Straight Life from 1975 by Freddie Hubbard. In addition to releasing many great records over the decades under his own name (including gem after gem on Blue Note), he appeared on some of the most pivotal jazz albums in history: Ascension by John Coltrane, Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman, Blues And The Abstract Truth by Oliver Nelson, and Out To Lunch by Eric Dolphy to name a few. And while the NYT obit claims his standing in the jazz world was diminished in the 70s, his recordings for CTI and Columbia in that decade are now rightfully revered.

More Vintage Jazz Record Covers

December 23, 2008


I haven’t been in Stockholm lately (OK, I’ve never been in Stockholm) but if I were there, one of my first stops would be at Birka Jazz. They’ve had an online shop for 10 years now and their brick and mortar store has been selling rare jazz vinyl since 1975. To celebrate their 10th year online, they’ve posted a gallery of many of the LPs they’ve had in stock at one time or another, augmented with a number of hyper-rarities from private collections. Browsing through their cover archives is a virtual history of jazz, from the United States and beyond.

(Related post: Vintage Jazz Record Covers)

20 (More) Actresses

December 16, 2008


20 was obviously not enough. One of the great things about this viral theme is that pretty much everyone who has participated has created a visual list (check out the posts at Cinebeats and Allure for some fine examples).

Claudette Colbert, Gloria Swanson, Sophia Loren, Margaret Dumont, Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Louise Brooks, Hedy Lamarr, Monica Vitti, Jean Arthur, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Rosalind Russell, Pam Grier, Madeleine Kahn, Veronica Lake, Greta Garbo, Maggie Cheung, Falconetti, Jeanne Moreau.

A Fiberglass Chair

December 16, 2008

It’s mid-December and stress levels are high. I haven’t come across any video lately that has the calming powers of this film clip on the manufacture of a fiberglass Eames chair. It’s somehow mesmerizing and uplifting. Happy Holidaze.

Sara Tavares: Balance

December 12, 2008

No one alerted me to the fact that the phenomenal Sara Tavares has a new live DVD/CD (Alive in Lisboa) out – come on people! We found out about it anyway, and here’s a sneak peek.

20 Actresses

December 11, 2008


It’s the time of year for lists. Inspired by recent posts at Self-Stlyed Siren and The Sheila Variations, I’ve followed the theme (everyone please stop saying “meme”) of 20 favorite actresses. In no particular order: Paulette Goddard, Barbara Stanwyck, Giulietta Massina, Anna Karina, Cate Blanchett, Carole Lombard, Lucille Ball, Juliette Binoche, Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Harriet Andersson, Jessica Lange, Kate Winslet, Angelica Huston, Myrna Loy, Shirley MacLaine (if only for The Apartment), Susan Sarandon, Mae West, Penelope Cruz, Ziyi Zhang.

(See also: 20 (more) Actresses, 20 Actresses (grand finale), 20 Actors, 20 (more) Actors)

The Ten Best Albums of 8002

December 9, 2008

Someone pointed out that half of my best CDs of 2008 list is comprised of music from 30 years ago and that happens to be true. I did try to only include actual releases from this calendar year, be they compilations of old material or brand new recordings. And while I acknowledge that there is plenty of good music being made today, I’m now posting another Best Albums list, one that stands completely out of time: the ten best records from any era that I discovered for the first time in 2008. The records here are indeed “records”: they’re all LPs I’ve picked up over the past 12 months (links go to current CD versions, if available). Some classic roots, some 70s salsa, a Brazilian genius and some home-grown jazz and funk. If nothing else, consider it a superb gift list.

Clifford Jordan/Glass Bead Games (Strata East, 1974)

Lee Dorsey/Yes We Can (Polydor, 1970)

Oliver Nelson/Blues & The Abstract Truth (Impulse, 1961)

Willie Colon/La Gran Fuga (Fania, 1970)

The Heptones/Good Life (Greensleeves, 1979)

Jorge Ben/Forca Bruta (Philips, 1970)

Gabor Szabo/Dreams (Skye, 1968)

Bobby Timmons/This Here (Riverside, 1960)

Ray Barretto/The Message (Fania, 1972)

Freddie McGregor/Big Ship (Thompson Sound, 1982)

Let’s just say there’s no shame on happening upon a great album 30 or 40 years after the fact. Some of the LPs here are in fairly rough shape, but the music sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded.

The Ten Best Albums of 2008

December 2, 2008

There was little question Orchestra Baobab would take the honors this year with their magisterial Made In Dakar album. Last year Trojan Records were the rage for classic reggae compilations but with the label falling into limbo VP have stepped up with their excellent 17 North Parade series. It was also a year for incredible Afrobeat compilations from Soundway, Strut, and Analog Africa. And Juana Molina followed her mesmerizing Son CD with the even more hypnotic and brilliant Un Dia. Without further ado…

Orchestra Baobab/Made In Dakar (Nonesuch/World Circuit)

Juana Molina/Un Dia (Domino)

Dennis Brown/A Little Bit More: Joe Gibbs 12″ Selection 1978-1983 (VP)

Various Artists/Channel One Story Chapter Two (VP)

Buika/Nina de Fuego (WEA International)

Maria Rita/Samba Meu (WEA International)

Various Artists/African Scream Contest (Analog Africa)

Various Artists/Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump (Strut)

Various Artists/Nigeria Disco Funk Special (Soundway)

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Disorient)

The year also saw strong albums and tracks from Amp Fiddler, Sonantes, Pacifika, Jazzanova, Horace Andy, Erykah Badu, Karl Hector & The Malcouns, Hercules & Love Affair, Quantic, The Mighty Diamonds, Toumani Diabate, Raphael Sebbag, Orgone, Kylie Auldist & The Bamboos, Bronx River Parkway, Q-Tip, Lucinda Williams, Al Green, and others. (And never mind the countless records that didn’t cross my path.) We also look forward to US releases of new CDs by Seu Jorge, Rokia Traore, and Novalima. Great music is alive and well.

(related post: The Ten Best Albums of 2007)